Thursday, June 5, 2014

A Vulnerable Turtle

I want to move you. I want to move you to care. I want to move you to action.

So I share with you a reptile who is sharing my backyard with me. An Eastern Box Turtle.

In the wake and busyness of human activity, this reptile is trying to survive. But they are having a difficult time.

They are hit by cars - some intentional by humans who consider it fun, some by accident. Some by loss of their habitat, that is the habitat we take from them as we proliferate at now beyond seven billion on the planet.

I've seen her throughout the years and I believe she's the same turtle. Just yesterday, I finally captured images of her and was able to identify her as a female by her brown eyes. Males are red.

Years ago, when I was a child, I'd visit my cousin whose home was in the country. One day while in the woods, we found a Box Turtle and decided to mark her on the bottom with a number. It was our idea of tracking her hoping we'd find her again but I had little confidence we would ever see her again.

The following year on my visit, we anticipated finding that turtle on our search of the woods. Sure enough we spotted a turtle. Was it the very same one that we marked?  I doubted it. We carefully picked her up and gently turned her over. There it was, the number we had painted on her!

I believe that experience, which so amazed me as a young girl, was my first dawning that animals have homes just like we do. Areas that they consider home.

The Eastern Box Turtle is now listed on the Endangered Species List as Vulnerable, meaning they are only one step up from Endangered. I could not imagine as a child that this species of turtle, beloved by many and probably one of the first turtles a child experiences, being in danger of sliding to extinction. But it is so.

If you see a Box Turtle in the road, stop and give them an assist on their journey to cross our wildlife unfriendly, unsafe roadways. Pick them up towards the back of the shell and cross them to the side of the road they were heading.

It's a kind, considerate and and good thing to do. And what could be better than helping those who are vulnerable.

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